Great Outlook for Dynamics CRM in 2015 and Beyond!

The 2014 CRM User Group Summit occurred this past week in St Louis.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and the conference opened with a very informative Opening General Session featuring Juhjar Singh, the GM for Dynamics CRM at Microsoft.  He began the presentation with the usual stellar digits … 40 straight quarters of double-digit growth and a user base that is at 4.2 million.  While all of the stats he shared were impressive, I was really anticipating seeing the CRM Road Map and all of the “goodies” we can expect from the upcoming releases.  The rest of the presentation was definitely enlightening and I wanted to share some the highly anticipated features of the upcoming “Vega” release.

First off … The Road Map from Juhjar’s slides!

crm_road_map

 

Q2 – 2014
Spring Wave

Q4 – 2014
Fall Wave

Q2 – 2015
Spring Wave

Product Name

CRM 2013 SP1
v6.1

CRM 2015
v7.0

CRM 2015 SP1?
v7.1?

 

I, for one, was glad to see this slide as I was having trouble keeping all of the code names straight.  As you can see, Microsoft is still projecting major releases of Dynamics CRM every 6 months and they appear to be keeping with the Fall & Spring Wave nomenclature.  As for the code names, some people don’t care for them, but I have a passion for Physics and Astronomy so naming all of the releases after stars in fine by me.

New goodies in CRM 2015 (a.k.a. “Vega”)

Birds Eye View

It’s like an org chart for your accounts, easily showing the account hierarchies that exist and each of the blocks in the chart are configurable “tiles” that support roll-up fields.  This new visualization method will help your sales team see the entire account hierarchy in one shot.  The easily configurable tiles ensure that the most important information is always shown.  One of the most impressive features is that the tiles will be able to show calculated and roll-up fields on the tile.  So, if your sales team was very focused on the value of opportunities for the current year, that value could be added to tile and it would roll-up accordingly based on your level in the hierarchy.

Product Master Data

They have done a major overhaul in the realm of products to enable rich product master data with dynamic attributes.  Some of the new features are …

  • Products will now be able to be grouped into product families and child products can be created.
  • Properties can be defined that inherit from the parent
  • Product bundles can be used to establish even more in-depth relationships between products
  • Default price lists can now be set-up based on territory
  • Import/Export products using the Configuration Migration Tool

One example Juhjar gave was establishing a product family called “Surface Devices” with Surface RT and Surface Pro as child products.  Properties like Disk Space, OS and Memory are defined at the product family and the applicable properties are inherited by the appropriate products.  A product bundle could then be created between Surface RT and Touch Cover products linking them together for potential upsell.

Configuration Migration Tool

This tool was actually released as part of the Leo release and is available in the CRM SDK.  It opens up a world of possibilities for moving data between environments.  Basically, the tool exports data for a selected set of entities into an XML file which can then be imported with the same tool into another organization.  And, this is all without using any kind of external integration platform like Scribe or SSIS.

Obviously, this is extremely useful for maintaining a very complicated product hierarchy between environments, however it isn’t limited to only products.  We can use this tool to import/export data from any entity in CRM.  Theoretically, we could migrate the entire CRM database using this tool, but that isn’t the intent of this tool.  I am looking forward to being able to utilize this new tool the next time I need to move configuration type data between environments.

Multi-Entity Search

Not much more elaboration needed here.  When this slide came up in Juhjar’s presentation, he nearly got a standing ovation and the entire auditorium burst into applause.  It’s apparent that this is a HIGHLY anticipated new feature.

Custom Entity and Global Help

To help with user adoption, the Global Help content can be overridden with your own custom developed help files and help files can be deployed for custom entities which wasn’t available in previous releases.

Comprehensive Branching Support for Process Flows

The new Rule-based branching will be created and edited through the UI and will be evaluated in real-time.  The branching will support single entity or cross-entity process flows as well as “branch merging” further downstream if required by the business rules.  Branching support is a major accomplishment for CRM 2015.  Previously, this type of business process control could only be implemented through heavy customization and, therefore, changes were complex and expensive.  Now that branching will be built into the UI, it puts the power back in hands of the business process experts, the sales team.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Dynamics CRM community as a whole is eagerly awaiting the release of Dynamics CRM 2015 (“Vega”) later this year.  Based on the feature list, I think it’s clear that Microsoft has gotten Dynamics CRM to a very stable core platform and they can now focus on enriching & enhancing that platform to continue the stellar growth we have seen in Dynamics CRM over the past few years into the future.

TO 2015 AND BEYOND!

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